“How I went from being a heroin addict to becoming a Buckingham Palace guard”

Paul Boggie admits that years of heroin addiction led him to lose his will to live.

But after making a radical change, he joined the army and ended up guarding Buckingham Palace as part of the Scots Guards, a division of the army charged with the protection of royal residences.

Paul started smoking heroin at age 18 in Craigentinny, a suburb of Edinburgh, where he lived.

He remembers that he was upset after fighting with his friends, so when one of them offered to use drugs, he agreed.

“They were all crammed into a little (Ford brand) Fiesta and I only saw the flash of aluminum foil, but I didn’t know what it was,” he recalls.

“One of them got out and told me they were chasing the dragon. There were no needles, no spoons, and no belts. When I got in the car it smelled awful, like rotten fish. This is what heroin smoke smells like, ”he describes.

Paul boggie
Paul boggie
Paul Boggie started using heroin when he was 18 years old.

“I didn’t see myself as an addict”

After using his salary to borrow money, he soon ran up 16,000 pounds (about $ 21,000) in debt.

Paul kept his job as a mailman despite using heroin every day, something he did even in the bathrooms at work.

“It could still work,” he says.

“I didn’t see myself as the stereotype of the heroin addict. (The drug) had not affected my body, ”he details.

Got hidethey used drugs to your employer and your family. And he justified his reddened eyes – a characteristic indicator of addiction – as the consequence of allergic rhinitis.

“I didn’t think I was addicted, I didn’t take it seriously,” says Paul, who is now 42 years old and lives in Fife, in eastern Scotland.

Paul boggie
Paul boggie
Paul Boggie (right) with one of his brothers and his mother

However, when a police drug raid left him unable to buy heroin for eight hours, he felt “terrified.”

“I remember when I finally got drugs, I felt amazing. All the physical pain, the chills, the nose and the red eyes disappeared ”, he describes.

“But then I thought, ‘Oh no, I think I just signed my death warrant ‘”, analyze.

“This is how I realized that I was in danger because I loved heroin. I remember that I thought I must be an addict ”, he acknowledges.

“I gave up living”

Over the years, the drug began to take its toll on him.

Paul boggie
Paul boggie

He lost his job and started to look bad. His moods were altered and people began to notice it.

She lost weight dramatically and said she was “waiting to die.”

“I gave up living. He was only focused on getting heroin. I was stuck feeling sorry for myself and heroin was taking it all away from me, ”he says.

“Luckily, most of the time my parents let me stay at their house, but I have slept on stairs,” he details.

“You do not feel pain or cold because you are happy wherever you are when you take heroin,” he says.

Paul tried to quit heroin 13 timesBut he relapsed every time, until he attended a course at the Cyrenians homeless charity.

“I would leave all my drugs and heroin on the table along with a milk tea that I drank to swallow my pills. But (one day) I walked by, leaned my nose against the mirror in my room and asked myself, ‘What do you want?’ ”He recalls.

“I looked at myself and said to myself: ‘Don’t ask for heroin again because you’re not going to have and that was it”.

He never used again.

Paul boggie
Paul boggie
Paul trained for months before a planned tour in Afghanistan, but suffered an accident.

“I was proud of what I had achieved”

A few years later, after gaining weight and landing a job at the Morrisons supermarket chain, he joined the Scots Guards when he was 30 years old.

Within six months of joining the army, he was on duty at Buckingham Palace.

“I had stopped drugs, but I still felt that something was missing in my life,” he says.

“When I joined the Scots Guards I was very proud of what I had accomplished. I remember thinking: ‘Wow, a few years ago I was addicted to heroin and now I’m standing guard at the palace. “, recognize.

However, after five years in the army he was transferred to a training camp in England – with the purpose of joining a tour of Afghanistan – when the truck he was traveling in crashed and seriously injured his back.

When he was discharged from the hospital, he was prescribed pain relievers for his spine, to which he became addicted.

Paul boggie
Nadin Dunnigan Photography
Paul now lives in Fife with his wife Stephanie and stepdaughter Cherise.

During the quarantine for the covid-19 pandemic, he wrote the book Heroin to hero (“From heroin to hero”) whose proceeds are donated to the homeless.

There he describes how he got off heroin, which allowed him to finally give up painkillers.

“I just now choose to live with the pain instead of taking the pills.”, he assures.

Today, Paul offers talks in schools in an attempt to highlight the dangers of addiction, as well as speaking with inmates in jail, for free.

“Drugs are bad, but addiction is horrible”, define.

“It is difficult to break an addiction. You end up accepting your fate and you can end up dead like many of my friends, ”he says.

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